Arsenal are making major moves in the January transfer window, but their actions have been motivated by necessity rather than ambition. That said, their supporters will be encouraged by the business being carried out at the Emirates Stadium. Henrikh Mkhitaryan has already signed for the Gunners in a straight swap deal with Alexis Sanchez. It is a blow to lose the Chilean, but it was expected and it is a good deal for the club, as they are getting a very good player in return. Although the Armenian hasn’t set the Premier League on fire, he showed his ability at Borussia Dortmund and Arsene Wenger will be hoping that he can replicate that form in North London.
However, it is a former team-mate of Mkhitaryan that is set to be the biggest name acquisition from abroad. Arsenal are confident of completing a deal for Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The Gabon international has been a long-term target for Premier League clubs, but he has been unattainable until now. Sky Sports report that the Gunners are in talks over the 28-year-old and they are thought to be progressing well.
This season, the Gunners have been the joint lowest-scorers in the top-six and they will be looking to add firepower to their ranks as they attempt to return to the Champions League. Their goal difference of +14 is considerably lower than the teams that they are competing against. This is a huge concern as they are already trailing in points and that deficit in goals means that they are realistically six points from breaking into the top four.
Aubameyang may be a mercurial talent, but he will excite the Arsenal supporters and provide the squad with a major boost after the loss of Sanchez. This season, he has scored 17 goals across the Champions League and Bundesliga, which averages at one every 109.8 minutes. Considering Dortmund have been struggling and have seen one manager fired, this is an impressive record. Despite the problems he can cause off the pitch, he is one of the best strikers in the world and would represent a coup for the Gunners.
It will be interesting to see where Aubameyang fits in if he does sign for the club. Alexandre Lacazette only joined in the summer and it would be a surprise if the Frenchman lost his position leading the line. He has been frustrating at times, but the club have invested a lot of money in him and it is too soon to cut their losses. The two forwards are similar players, in that they have a lot of pace and provide dynamic movement in the final third.
In the Bundesliga this season, Aubameyang has averaged 3.87 shots and 1.02 chances created per ninety minutes. Meanwhile, Lacazette has averaged 2.91 shots and 1.22 chances created per ninety minutes in the Premier League. It would appear that the current Arsenal number nine is better at linking up play, but the Dortmund striker is a bigger goal threat. Furthermore, the Gabon international has been a more reliable finisher, as his chance conversion stands at 22.8%, while Lacazette’s is only 16.4%.
Wenger will be hoping that quality competition will see Lacazette upping his own game, as at the time of writing, the Frenchman is in no real danger of losing his place. Given they are both very quick, either could be used on the wing. Aubameyang would be the more natural fit for that role, as he has played wide often during his career. However, it would limit his goal threat and as that is his main quality, that could be an error.
This deal isn’t complete yet, but the window is shaping up to be a lot better than Arsenal fans expected. The club didn’t have a choice really as they were always likely to lose Alexis Sanchez, thus they needed to provide the fans with something to get behind. Aubameyang wouldn’t come without risks, but he is a top tier attacking player and the Gunners need to be buying quality if they are to rise back up the Premier League table.